07/08/2020 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

(Re)cap: CS&A Wraps Up its Women’s (Re)Institute

Take a look at what went on during our month-long virtual conference for women working in education.

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For the past three years, Carney Sandoe's Women's Institute has created a trusted space for personal and professional development for women working in education. Since 2017, we have gathered together in Boston for a day of inspiring speakers, workshops, networking, and dedicated time for mentoring all in a safe space for women to share their experiences and learn from one another.

When it became clear that, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Institute would not be able to be held in person, it wasn't a question of if the Institute should still be held, for us it was a question of how. Given the notorious low percentage of women in leadership positions in independent schools, the work we are doing to support women — both as leaders and at various stages of their careers — is just too important to pause.

After a lot of discussion and brainstorming, our Women's (Re)Institute was born. Carney Sandoe decided to (re)imagine our annual Women’s Institute and (re)invent the way we support women in education. We (re)developed this important event into a free, month-long dynamic online learning and networking tool, featuring inspiring speakers, job search advice, thought leadership from industry experts, career advising opportunities, and much more. Our theme, (Re)imagine. (Re)fresh. (Re)focus., captures the spirit of pivoting and being flexible to adapt to these challenging times. It also acknowledges the importance of practicing self-care by taking a step back and refocusing on career or life goals.

Four Weeks, Four Themes, Endless Opportunities to Learn and Engage

Spanning the month of June, the (Re)Institute revolved around a different theme each week and featured content — including articles, live webinars, recorded interviews, and virtual roundtable discussions — that participants could engage with at their own pace, on their own schedule. Registered participants also had the opportunity to sign up for a one-on-one advising session with a member of our Placement Team or Search Group to discuss anything from a job search or a leadership challenge, or to review written job search documents and talk about work/life balance.

Over the course of four weeks, nearly 2,000 women from around the world joined us to engage in our (Re)Institute. Attendees came from the independent school community, as well as from higher education, public schools, and the private sector, and included teachers, professors, deans, counselors, admission directors, advancement officers, division heads, principals, athletic directors, CFOs, COOs, directors of diversity, human resource workers, graduate students, and heads of school, to name a few.

Check out the infographic below for a by-the-numbers summary, then keep scrolling to read a bit more detail about the (Re)Institute.

Women's (Re)Institute infographic

Week One: Flexibility and Adaptability

The first week of the (Re)Institute took a look at what it means to be a flexible leader and explored how to use aspects of improv to build the mental muscles required for the type of adaptive leadership necessary in schools today. Highlights included:

  • an overview of the mindsets of improv
  • live improv classes led by Kristy West, applied improv practitioner and founder of BraveSpace
  • a recorded video conversation with Kristy West about what improv has to do with our life
  • a virtual participant roundtable with small breakout groups so attendees could meet and discuss aspects of work and life

Week One also kicked off our series of leadership journey stories from women who work in independent schools. By the end of the event, we released a total of 17 stories from women including Christina Pak, Head of Upper School at Mirman School; Danielle Passno, Head of Middle School at The Browning School; Johára Tucker, Director of Equity and Inclusion at Head-Royce School; Lise Charlier, Head of School at The Cambridge School of Weston; Meredith Herrera, Dean of Student Life at The Branson School; Rochelle Reodica, Director of Upper School at Marin Horizon School; Dorothy Jones, Dean of Enrollment and Community Culture at The Bay School of San Francisco; Chelsea Collins, incoming Head of School of St. Luke’s Episcopal School; Samantha Coyne-Donnel, Head of School at Emerald Mountain School; Laura Farrell, Head of School at Merion Mercy Academy; and several members of Carney Sandoe's Search and Consulting Group who are former heads of school.

Week Two: Job Search Fundamentals

For attendees considering or actively searching for a new teaching position, administrative post, or leadership opportunity, this week provided concrete tools to help shine in the job search. Highlights included:

  • resume, cover letter, personal statement, and interviewing tips
  • a live webinar on interviewing basics led by Carney Sandoe
  • a recorded video discussion between Roz Benjamin, incoming Head of School at The Children's School, and Khadija Fredericks, Head of School at Saint Andrew's Episcopal School, on how to manage the intensities of a leadership job search
  • a recorded conversation about leadership opportunities for women in international schools with CS&A international search consultants John Chandler, Art Charles, and David Chojnacki, and Deb Welch, CEO of the Academy for International School Heads (AISH)

Week Three: Knowing Yourself

Week Three gave participants several opportunities to think about who they are as individuals and as leaders. Content this week focused on how to cultivate the habits of receiving feedback well and how to build on established strengths. Highlights included:

  • tips on how to develop the skills to understand and utilize feedback
  • an interview with Stacia McFadden, Director of Academic Technology at The Lovett School, on how understanding her strengths has helped her become an effective leader
  • a webinar led by Carney Sandoe examining the ways to authentically receive and use feedback
  • an interactive webinar led by Kristy West, applied improv practitioner, on storytelling and how to use it to tell one's own story
  • a recorded conversation on using strengths assessments between CS&A executive coaching consultant Ann Teaff and Dr. Lauren Lek, Head of School at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace

Week Four: Laying the Groundwork for Success

In Week Four, we explored the power of mentorship and coaching and shared strategies for effective self-advocacy. Highlights included:

  • mentor/mentee profiles with female school leaders exploring the power of coaching
  • an article on supporting women of color in headships
  • a webinar on negotiation with Dr. Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin, negotiation and conflict resolution professor in the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership
  • a recorded discussion with Jenny Rao, Head of School at Emma Willard School, and Armistead Lemon, Upper School Division Director at Harpeth Hall, on self-care through executive coaching
  • a list of recommended books, articles, and podcasts related to leadership, career advancement, and other inspiring topics
  • a virtual participant roundtable with small breakout groups for discussion and reflection

Looking Ahead

We have been incredibly humbled by how well our beloved Women's (Re)Institute was received and energized by the positive feedback from participants. This was truly a labor of love, and we are excited to explore where we can grow from here. Many women expressed interest in continuing to engage through cohort groups or in other virtual spaces, and we hope to share our plans for the future soon.

As a reminder to anyone who registered for the (Re)Institute, the content will remain live through the end of July — so feel free to go back and check out anything you missed or want to see again.

Thank you to the women who joined us on this journey, shared their stories, and engaged with us! “When women support each other, incredible things happen.”

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